Even the most seasoned small business email marketers might be under some misconceptions about the terms used in the process, so here are some of the primary right (and wrong) definitions.

Above the Fold

Wrong: Your big gut overhangs your speedo.
Right: What’s visible in your email on a viewer’s pane without scrolling down.


Wrong: What that big gut does when you run along the beach.
Right: An email that cannot be delivered, either by no fault of yours (soft bounce) or because the email is sent to a nonexistent address (hard bounce).

Call to Action

Wrong: The exhortations of Denver Broncos fans when their team fell asleep against the Patriots.
Right: The most important part of your email, which tells the recipient what action to take to convert.


Wrong: The US Government’s permission to send out millions of emails.
Right: US legislation that ensures that citizens may unsubscribe at their first request.


Wrong: Making fresh butter.
Right: The number of subscribers who leave your list over a specific amount of time.

Conversion Rate

Wrong: How quickly the really ugly people in the bar get gorgeous vs. the amount you’ve had to drink.
Right: The percentage of subscribers to respond positively to your Call to Action in a given email campaign.

Cost of Acquisition

Wrong: What you pay to buy a list of ten million “guaranteed fresh email addresses.”
Right: The cost to generate a single new subscriber to your email newsletter list.

Cost per Thousand

Wrong: How much you owe a loanshark when they lend you a grand.
Right: The cost to send a thousand emails to your subscribers, including email service provider charges and overheads.

False Positive

Wrong: When your doctor tells you that you have a terminal disease and then rechecks the chart and says “nevermind.”
Right: Legitimate permission-based messages that are erroneously blocked by the various internet filters.

Going Viral

Wrong: Getting onto a long-haul jetliner when you’re severely contagious.
Right: Crafting email newsletter content so compelling that your recipients can’t help but send it along to their social clique.


Wrong: What you do to keep yourself from getting smelly and infected.
Right: Maintenance of an email list to quickly remove bounced and unsubscribed addresses.

Junk Folder

Wrong: The place where you keep all the photos of especially attractive people’s junk and/or garage sale items.
Right: Where you never want your emails to end up: following best email practices will minimize that number.


Wrong: The notices in 4 point type that state the subscriber has signed away the rights to their firstborn child.
Right: The critical From line, subject line and preheader that usually determine whether an email is opened or not.

Multi-Part MIME

Wrong: A movie trilogy starring Marcel Marceau.
Right: A message format that will automatically display in either HTML or text only.


Wrong: How you respond to your spouse when you’re ticked off at them.
Right: An email set up so that the customer can’t reply to it (and you should never send).

Open Rate

Wrong: How many bars are still open after 1 am.
Right: The percentage of emails that are opened in your campaign, determined by a tiny transparent image whose download is tracked.


Wrong: What gap-toothed fishermen do.
Right: Email scams to fool people into revealing personal and financial information to criminals.

Relationship Email

Wrong: What you send your spouse apologizing for calling her sister a nasty name.
Right: A commercial email based on a pre-existing business relationship.

Rich Media

Wrong: Rupert Murdoch, Ted Turner, Michael Bloomberg, Silvio Berlusconi…
Right: An email that includes video, audio or animation.


Wrong: Cutting up an orange to remove all the pithy membraney parts.
Right: The division of your subscriber list based on interest, demographics, geography, behavior and more.


Wrong: A German restaurant in Honolulu.
Right: A volunteer project that tracks email violators to reduce their spamming activities.

Now that you have your terms right (and wrong… way wrong…) you can now get the best results out of your email marketing campaign!